The Moral of the Princess and the Pea(berry)

We just roasted peaberry this morning, so peaberry was on my mind. Peaberry is about 5% of our harvest. When I looked over my list of possible blog topics and reference articles I’ve saved up, I saw this peaberry myths and the reality article from the Perfect Daily Grind that I meant to share. It brings up a few more nuances I haven’t mentioned in other posts relating to peaberry. And then my blog title just sprung to mind based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Somehow, in my mind, they relate.

A young woman’s credentials (claim of royalty) are tested by her sensitivity (to a pea under a stack of mattresses).

What’s the moral of the fairy tale? One blogger said: “Perhaps the fairy tale is intended to be a mockery of those occupying a comfortable position in society, whether royal or aristocratic, and their over-sensitivity to small details which the great unwashed (i.e. the rest of us) don’t have time even to notice, let alone be bothered by.”  … “perhaps ‘The Princess and the Pea’ is meant to ridicule those people who are incapable of understanding true suffering. This is seen as a sign of one’s nobility and good breeding …”

The Wikipedia entry included a commentary, “… Andersen “never tired of glorifying the sensitive nature of an elite class of people.”

Third wave, specialty coffee is sort of elitist. For those who drink this quality coffee, it’s a small luxury. Compared to my grandparents who labored hard with Kona coffee and drank Folgers instant, I’m a coffee snob. But we are far away from Californian coffee at $200+/pound.

It’s interesting to reflect how attitudes change. My mom shared that in the old days people thought of peaberry as “kuzu,” abnormal rubbish coffee. The size was smaller and there was only one bean in the berry. UH (Uncle Harold) thinks it’s a modern day marketing gimmick to claim special flavor of peaberry coffee beans. You’ll have to try peaberry for yourself. If there’s a market for it, simply because of its relative scarcity, peaberry will command a higher price.

It reminds me of the changing attitudes about lobster. In the 1800’s & earlier, these crawling, bottom-dwellers were plentiful and considered “the cockroach of the sea.” They were fed to servants, migrants and prisoners.  Indentured servants had contracts stating that they wouldn’t be served lobster more than three times in a week. Lobster itself hasn’t really changed over time, but rather attitudes and perceptions of people towards lobster have morphed. Nowadays, it’s one of the most expensive food items and you might enjoy it on special occasions. 

At this point I have to make a shout out for Kona Cold Lobsters. Years ago our good friend introduced them to us by bringing lobsters (and abalone and kanpachi) for us to share with the in-laws. We discovered one live lobster tried to make a run for it in the fridge. Don’t be misled by the company name to think Kona has its own native lobsters. You can visit their website and learn their story. We actually like to get oysters and kanpachi there rather than posh sea cockroaches. I like one of the “junk” cuts best — the kanpachi kama (collar).

So, peaberry, fairy tales, lobster, and food trends and culture. It is truly amazing where one’s thoughts can go, just starting from coffee.

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